- In the last couple of months, Apple has often been accused of anticompetitive behavior by both big and small tech companies and developers.
- Apple and Amazon will be asked to explain how their sales platforms work, as these two companies are both hosts and merchants.
- The goal of the antitrust hearing is to generate a report with recommendations on legislative action.
Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook agreed to testify in the US House Judiciary Committee antitrust probe, which has now been scheduled for Monday, July 27, at 12:00 PM Eastern Time, as per the announcement of the Judiciary Committee. Aside from Cook, the hearing (labeled “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple”) will also include testimonies by Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai, and Mark Zuckerberg.
As the name of the hearing implies, the main goal is to acquire additional information on the part of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, which has launched an investigation last year. With this said, the hearing will give the authorities a chance to get more information out of Apple about the company’s decision to ban certain apps, how search ranking results are generated, how the in-app purchase mechanism works, whether apps are allowed to integrate non-Apple payment systems, as well as about Apple’s policies of not allowing users to set third-party apps as their default choice.
The hearing comes at a very troubling time for Apple, as it seems. The company has been often accused of anticompetitive behavior in the past couple of months, with many criticizing the company’s 30% cut related to in-app purchases. For example, this is one of the reasons why The New York Times has ended its Apple News integration. Besides, Spotify has also filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Union, which is why the EU Commission has also launched its investigation. The Cupertino-based tech company has been recently fined $1.2 billion by the French competition authority, which certainly isn’t going to help build its case.
Via an official statement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Antitrust Committee Chairman David Cicilline said that hearing Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google CEOs is beneficial at this point. The authorities don’t only want to investigate the dominance of these tech giants but also if existing antitrust laws provide enough space for their competition to thrive. Here’s the official statement, found below:
“Since last June, the Subcommittee has been investigating the dominance of a small number of digital platforms and the adequacy of existing antitrust laws and enforcement. Given the central role these corporations play in the lives of the American people, it is critical that their CEOs are forthcoming. As we have said from the start, their testimony is essential for us to complete this investigation.”
It is also worth mentioning that this hearing is only one step in a rather complex and long-term investigation. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what CEOs of the country’s biggest tech companies think about their competition. However, it will take some time until definite conclusions are drawn.
The antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store practices is still in the early stages, as the Justice Department is currently focusing resources on another investigation regarding Google’s dominance in digital advertising. However, the hearing will generate a report with recommendations on legislative action.